A New Supreme Judicial Court To Hear Arguments For First Time

The Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court reconvenes for oral arguments Tuesday, after its summer break and a pair of personnel changes.

When the justices gather to hear their first case — an appeal from a Pittsfield man convicted of an assault with a box cutter — it’ll be the first time since 1997 that Roderick Ireland is not serving on the court.

Ireland – a Springfield native – stepped down as chief justice last month as he approaches his 70th birthday, the mandatory retirement age for state judges in Massachusetts. He was replaced in the top job by associate justice Ralph Gants, sworn in a few weeks ago by Gov. Deval Patrick

Gants is the court’s first Jewish chief justice. Ireland was its first African American.

The vacancy created by all of this was filled by Boston lawyer Geraldine Hines, the first African American woman to serve on the court.